Garrett College students can earn while they learn with STARS

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Members of Garrett College’s incoming freshman class will have the opportunity to earn while they learn this fall.

The college is implementing a new retention program that allows first-time college students taking a full-time credit load to earn up to a $300 award that can be applied to books or other miscellaneous expenses for the spring 2018 semester.  The STARS (Striving Together And Reaching Success) program is meant to provide students with the tools for college success starting with the day they reach campus.

“We’re offering to pay students for acquiring the skills and experience they need to become successful college students,” said Dr. Richard Midcap, Garrett College’s president.  “I’d say that’s a pretty good deal.”

The program requires participants to attend New Student Orientation, receive a “C” or better in a First-Year Experience course (FYE 101 or equivalent major course), and participate in one campus activity a month as well as one of two options for learning about transferring to a four-year college or university.  Participants must also utilize at least one Academic Support Service and successfully complete two of several career and student development options, including workshops dealing with technology skills, financial aid, and long-term academic planning.

Midcap said the STARS program, similar to one he was involved with at Chesapeake College, is built upon best practices in student retention.

“We are frontloading retention activities to better prepare students for the college experience,” said Midcap.  “The students who participated in the program we ran at Chesapeake consistently produced higher retention and completion rates, as well as higher grade-point averages, than students who chose not to participate.”

Ashley Ruby, coordinator of advising and academic support, said Garrett College already had many of the pieces in place to launch STARS.

“The new twist is the integrated, incentive-based model we will be employing,” said Ruby, who is the college’s point person for the program.  “We’re using the financial incentive to get students interested, but the real value comes with the skills and knowledge they acquire by completing the STARS program.”

Students who complete all of the program requirements and achieve at least a 3.0 grade-point average in the fall will receive a $300 award to be used in the spring.  Program completers who achieve between a 2.0 and 2.99 GPA will receive a $200 award.

Midcap said that while the program is voluntary, the college will be energetically marketing STARS in an effort to include as many full-time freshmen as possible in the 2017 STARS cohort.

“We will be sending personal emails and letters to those who are qualified to apply asking them to consider becoming part of STARS,” said Midcap.  ““We see this as a win/win program.  What college student can’t use an extra $200 or $300?  Of course, the most important benefit and goal of this program is its potential to dramatically increase the number of students who will have a successful college experience.”

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